The memoirEducated by Tara Westover and is one of my favorite reads of the year.It. Is. Everything. It has so many layers and Westover leaves you with mouth agape over and over again. It is disturbing, enlightening, and inspiring, all in one. This is not a book you simply read, it is one you feel. You feel Westover’s story on every single page and it hooked me in right away.
So Many Layers…
Layer one…Westover’s family. She grows up in the isolated mountains of Idaho where she is constantly preparing for the end of the world, packing “head for the hills” bags and canning food thanks to her father’s paranoia. She had a violent and abusive brother and the acts (emotional, physical, and animal abuse) were dismissed by her parents. Her family practiced strict Mormonism and some suspected mental illness was present.
Two…Westover’s parents do not believe in modern medicine or doctors and her mother actually practiced as an unlicensed midwife! There was use of many essential oils (to which I can relate), herbs, and other homeopathic practices. One horrific accident left the father disfigured and with third-degree burns.It was this accident that left the once struggling parents wildly successful with their homeopathic business.
Layer three: Homeschooling. Westover and her siblings were homeschooled, or something close to it, I guess!?! Mostly, it sounds like the children educated themselves. Each time any of the children mentioned that they wanted to go to public school, they got pushback. Anything that the government ran was the enemy according to the father. The type of schooling they got at home was textbooks that were old and in line with the parent’s beliefs. Westover was almost seventeen when she first stepped into the classroom.
Tara Westover’s story did not only talk about the horrible and hard things that happened in her life. She talked about friends she made along the way, dance class and theater classes she was able to attend, and other times of light in her life. She overcame huge challenges and had to make up some serious ground to be on the same page as everyone else in college (she didn’t know what the holocaust was!) Against these odds, Westover earns a doctoral degree from Cambridge. Whoa!
To Read or Not to Read…
This coming of age book is a must read! If you know a reader-it is a great gift (I gave a few for Christmas). It was at times a heart-wrenching book to read, but isn’t that why we read? To open our eyes to others’ experiences? To empathize with others? Westover is telling her story, but also telling a history. A history of her mountain and her side of Mormonism. I sometimes think that she could have written this memoir a little later in life. I wonder how her familial relationships are and is she still cultivating them? Either way, my next book will be a lighter read and it will definitely be fiction!